Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains 2023: Marhaba Ya Sanafi wins!

After an epic battle with Isaac Shelby, Marhaba Ya Sanafi won the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains at ParisLongchamp on Sunday. Breizh Sky completed the podium, ahead of the favourite, American Flag, who missed the break.

Ridden by Mickaël Barzalona, one of the best French jockeys, Marhaba Ya Sanafi is trained in Chantilly by the professional of German extraction Andreas Schutz. After winning the biggest races in his home country, Andreas Schutz pursued a career in Hong Kong for ten years, where his was rich record of achievement. He chose to settle at Chantilly (Oise), the largest French training centre for racehorses, in 2016. Since then, with only fifteen horses in the yard, he has been very successful, but his success in the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains will go down in history as his first Group 1 victory in France. Lastly, Marhaba Ya Sanafi is owned by Jaber Abdullah, a businessman who hails from Dubai.

Technical result
1st         Marhaba Ya Sanafi
2nd    Isaac Shelby
3rd     Breizh Sky
Distances: Short head – 2 lengths – Head
Time: 1’38’’56

What connections said:

Andreas Schutz (the trainer of Marhaba Ya Sanafi, 1st) – Chantilly (Oise)

« I’m delighted! I was expecting a great performance from him but relative to finishing in the top five [rather than winning]. I was also hoping for more rain. He had run well in the Prix de Fontainebleau and I had expected him to improve. The colt had worked well in the company of other of my horses, but I don’t necessarily have much to go on in the morning. I have won a lot of classics in Germany so I was able to have a calm outlook going into the race. It’s down to my experience! I have been in France for seven years and I hope that this victory will mark a new turning point in my career. The colt is entered in the Qatar Prix du Jockey-Club, which seems like the logical next step. »

Brian Meehan the trainer of Isaac Shelby, 2nd) – trained in Britain

« We were a bit frustrated by the lack of pace, especially in the first part of the race. It wasn’t fast enough for him, but he ran very well. I’m delighted for the horse, for his owner and for the team at home. He hasn’t shown the full extent of his talent yet. The best is yet to come, especially in races where there will be more pace. We are thinking of Royal Ascot, and in particular the St James’s Palace Stakes for him. »

Alessandro Botti (the trainer of Breizh Sky, 3rd) – Chantilly (Oise)

« It was great! Before the race I was still worried about the draw. But Maxime Guyon rode a great race. In the false straight, I could see that he had some energy to spend. When Maxime pulled him out for his challenge, he was still far off the pace and so he couldn’t make up the leeway… But he gave him a very good ride. And I think that the part of the track, towards the inside, was riding quicker. As things stand, he’s scheduled to go to Royal Ascot for a 1,400m race on the straight course. We will try to prepare him for that. It will depend on how the horse recovers. »

Yann Barberot (the trainer of American Flag, 4th) – Deauville (Calvados)

« The fact that he missed the break obviously cost him dearly. He had a good run through to the straight, but he very quickly had difficulty in raising his game. He had easily beaten the winner in the main prep race [Prix de Fontainebleau]. It was an off day. I don’t have any explanations in the heat of the moment. » 

Jean-Claude Rouget (the trainer of Valimi, 5th, et Kubrick, 7th) – Deauville (Calvados)

« Valimi is a colt with a lot of speed. I think he got beaten due to the fact that he didn’t see the trip. When the first and second came to challenge him, he lost a bit of heart, and that’s what cost him third place. We will step him back in trip. It is not impossible that he will go straight to the Prix Jean Prat, which is at Deauville where he is trained. As for Kubrick, I think it’s a question of the ground. The track seems to be very testing. In future, we will race him on better ground. »